Woes of ‘the other woman’

Paulo, I met this great guy who’s been married 18 years. We’ve been planning on moving in together, but he’s messed up emotionally. He says he’s in love with me but also loves his wife … and said he has obligations to his kids too. Now she is keeping him a prisoner in his own home, monitoring every move he makes, and every call he gets. Please help.

– Barbara, Ontario

On an intellectual level, this is easy … you have to let go of your attachment to this guy. But letting go, of course, is easier said than emotionally done! He is seriously (and understandably) conflicted, which makes him emotionally unavailable for the kind of intimate connection you desire. He may be into you, but no matter how much you like each other, “He’s just not available!” And, if ever he is to break his marital agreement, it must be solely of his own volition, none of your doing. So, there is nothing for you to do but let go.

You have developed a strong emotional attachment and, unfortunately, like the high from a drug, you are going to have to go through a hangover period — from which you will surely emerge intact. Withdrawals are not fun. Hopefully you will come out of it learning an important lesson about the primal importance of availability.

If a person can’t figure out a way to be with you, he is an awful choice to get involved with. No matter what all the reasons are, getting hooked by an unavailable person is a terrific formula for personal pain.

I’m sorry about the pain, but you need to accept your pain in order to suffer less. Go through the letting go process and free yourself to look elsewhere (when you are ready). When someone is unavailable — for any reason, physical or emotional — there’s hardly ever anything that you can do about it. Just learn to choose more carefully in the future. It’s a profound wisdom all relationship-seekers can use — to make “Is he/she available?” the first possible-deal-killer question we ask, right off the bat.